Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 06th
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Have Your Cake

HotPlate.ShortcakeIt occurred to me that my children may have grown up deprived. I prepared thousands of cooked-from-scratch meals, albeit with some barely edible experiments in the mix. Focaccia, pizza and even a pair of baguettes made their way to the table (mea culpa; not so difficult with a bread machine), but I don’t recall ever making them a proper strawberry shortcake.

True shortcake, which hails from Great Britain, is a sweetened biscuit for which butter is cut into the flour, sugar, salt and quick leavening agent such as baking soda. When cool, it has a scone-like density that absorbs the sweet strawberry juice without falling apart. Tedious is how I would describe using a dinner knife in each hand, working in parallel, to literally “cut in” the fat into the flour when I was little. As we got older, and busier, Bisquick (admittedly, it does contain xanthan gum) made a fine substitute.

Whipping cream is a simple task with a hand mixer, but it’s best to add any sugar at the end. I suggest placing the cream bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice. When the weather is warm, whipping can turn the cream to butter. I have proof.

Seasonal house-made strawberry shortcake has returned to Ristorante Italiano. On a plate drizzled with crimson syrup sat a hand-formed, softball-sized, roughly textured biscuit, dry and lightly sweetened. It was halved and spread with whipped cream. More whipped cream was piled on top and piped on the plate, with all three fancy dollops topped with sugared berries. 

Ristorante Italiano, 555 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 458-2321. Full bar. Serving lunch Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., limited menu weekdays from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., and dinner nightly from 5 p.m. Visit

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The Pope has come and gone, but his loving presence ignited new hope and goodness in many. While he was in NYC, China’s ruler arrived in Washington D.C. East (China) and West (Rome), meeting in the middle, under Libra, balancing sign of Right Relations. The Pope arrived at Fall Equinox. Things initiated at Fall Equinox are birthed at Winter Solstice. The Pope’s presence was a ritual, an initiation rite—like the Dalai Lama’s visits—offering prayers, teachings and blessings. Rituals anchor God’s plan into the world, initiating us to new realities, new rules. The Pope’s presence brings forth the Soul of the United States, its light piercing the veils of materialism. The Pope’s visit changed things. New questions arise, new reasons for living. A new wave of emerging life fills the air. Like a cocoon shifting, wings becoming visible. The winds are different now. Calling us to higher vision, moral values, virtues that reaffirm and offer hope for humanity. A changing of the guard has occurred. Appropriately, this is the week of the Jewish Festival of Sukkoth (’til Oct. 4), when we build temporary homes (little huts in nature), entering into a harvest of prayer and thanksgiving, understanding our fragile and impermanent existences. We are summoned to reflect upon our lives, our humanity, our nature, our spirit and each other. Offering gratitude, becoming a magnet for others. We observe. We see the needs. We love more.
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